My Favourite Reads of December 2018

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My Favourite Reads image

The Palace of Lost Memories and The Echo of Broken Dreams by CJ Archer

The Palace of Lost Memories by CJ Archer

I’ve been looking forward to CJ Archer’s new After the Rift series ever since she announced it and to my delight it exceeded expectations. I expected The Palace of Lost Memories to be good but this was in another class again. I think because it’s a bit darker. This is a world where even those you trust may not be who they seem.

There are so many questions about the King’s new palace and even more questions about those who staff it. Where did they come from? And where are their memories? These are puzzles that I’m sure will be slowly solved as the series progresses. In the meantime, we’re treated to smaller mysteries that are just as enjoyable. In The Palace of Lost Memories, it’s who poisoned the king’s favourite, while in The Echo of Broken Dreams it’s who is attacking palace maids, among other questions.

Love the heroine Josie, love the hero Hammer, and the minor characters are interesting and well crafted. As with all CJ Archer books the pacing was spot on.

I gobbled these down and now cannot wait for book 3.

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

This was hilarious, and I defy anyone not to at least smile at the early scenes with the baby. The poor heroine. The poor hero!

The premise of A Baby In His In-Tray is a beauty too. To help her twin sister Eliza, Liv agrees to impersonate her at work while Eliza sorts out a personal issue (I hope Michelle writes her story). With the boss Lord Sebastian Tyrell away, no one should be the wiser. Then Liv returns to her desk post-lunch and finds a baby on it with a note requesting that Sebastian sort it out. Liv has no choice but to call him and act as nanny while he returns. This does not make for a happy Liv!

The relationship between these two is wonderful, but as you’d expect from an excellent romance it’s not without its complications. For her sister’s sake, Liv must keep her true identity hidden, while Sebastian has his own issues thanks to an awful upbringing. Then there’s the question of who the baby’s mother is…

Huge fun.

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal made me cry more than once, then smile at the end and feel a bit soppy, which is exactly what I want from a romance.

I really liked Sophie, she was a great heroine. That perfect combination of sass, smarts and vulnerability that she keeps well hidden. She’s the sort of capable, organised person you’d want on your side in a crisis, and I loved the way she handled the hero Will’s crotchety grandfather.

If you’re partial to a marriage of convenience story, you’ll love this one. I certainly did.

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

Ah, I do love me an Anna Campbell Christmas story. They are so much fun.

Elspeth is a smart as a whip wallflower who’s harboured a secret crush on rakish Brody for years. Deciding she’s had enough of this nonsense, Elspeth forces herself out of this hopeless and silly love, only for Brody to suddenly notice her in a major way. What follows is a gorgeous struggle between a young woman determined to keep her promise to herself and a man who, for once in his life, has only honourable intentions and can’t understand why the object of his affections won’t swoon at his feet. Then the family get involved…

An absolute delight and perfect for any season. And highlanders!

Read an excerpt from The Laird’s Christmas Kiss and more on Anna’s recent Teaser Tuesday.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

My second favourite read of December (or should that be third given CJ Archer took the top spot with two books?).

I’ve wanted to read Apple Tree Yard since its release back in 2013. In fact, I still have clippings of its newspaper reviews on my “want to read” pile so I wouldn’t forget about it. Which reminds me, I can chuck those now.

I adore books that make you feel anxious for the heroine (or hero) and Apple Tree Yard kept me in a state of constant worry. This is a combination of courtroom drama and the secret retelling of an affair. For some reason it reminded me a lot of Killing Me Softly by Nicci French even though they’re quite different stories. It’s that opening blast of attraction between strangers followed by out-of-character behaviour I suspect. That and the unsettling storylines.

Highly recommended and I hear the recently released TV series is excellent too.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

This came highly recommended by writing buddy Amy Andrews, who praised Snyder’s great voice and fresh story. I was a tad sceptical – bad boy bikers really aren’t my thing – but having read Tikka Chance on Me I can only agree. This was a whole lot of sexy fun, with a fantastic heroine and great banter. It’s also short and whizzes along. Perfect for an afternoon of fun. And you can pick it up for around a dollar on most ebook platforms.

What were your favourite reads of December?

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21 thoughts on “My Favourite Reads of December 2018

  1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    I love Michelle and Anna’s books, they write such awesome stories (I’m yet to read the ones you mentioned). Ooh, I’ve read Killing Me Softly and really enjoyed it, Nicci French sure does write some great psychological thrillers.

    I was able to fit 10 books in for the month of December and 8 of those books were fabulous: Unmaking a Murder by Graham Archer (non-fiction), A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek, Mistletoe and the Major by Anna Campbell, The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Sam’s Best Shot by James Best (non-fiction), On Her Own Two Wheels by Stacy Xavier, The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I read Killing Me Softly years ago, Sue, and it’s stayed with me ever since. One of the most unsettling books I’ve ever read.
      I’m so excited you read Eleanor and Park! I adored that story so much. What did you think?
      Just downloaded a sample of The Messenger of Athens. I like the sound of that. Thanks!

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        If you think Killing Me Softly is unsettling, Cathryn, you should read Secret Smile by Nicci French, unsettling and creepy, and to think there are characters out there like that, makes me shudder.

        Oh yes, I loved loved Eleanor and Park, so mesmerising. And that ending… it was just the best.

        I think you’ll enjoy The Messenger from Athens, Cathryn, the detective is very interesting and quite unusual but I just love how he goes about his investigations. And I better let you know there are 7 other books in the series when I chose this book I had no idea it was a series but it’s so good so I’ll continue reading them.

        1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

          Thanks Sue. I’ll chase up Secret Smile now. I do love to be creeped out! I did see that the Athens series was quite big but I’ll read the sample and see how I go. It sounds like fun.

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        You’re welcome, Anna! I don’t think I have a favourite I love all your Christmas stories!

  2. AvatarClaire Louisa Holderness

    I live the sound of Tikka Chance on me and The Million pound marriage deal. Annas is already on my pile. My favourite reads of December were The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester, Annie Seaton’s Come back to me and Rebecca Raisin ‘s The Little Bookshop on the Seine

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing, Claire. Love the Aussie reads. The Million Pound Marriage Deal is a lovely read. I hope you get to enjoy it. One to make you sniffle a little and smile!
      I really must read a Rebecca Raisin book. Everyone loves them and who doesn’t love a Paris story? And the covers are cute.

  3. AvatarAnna Campbell

    Cathryn, I always love this column but I have to say I love this column most when you include a book by moi! THANK YOU!!! Had no idea until I swung by. So glad you enjoyed my Christmas story. It was fun to write! Roguish Highlanders always are and poor Brody was so taken aback when his charm didn’t have its usual knee-weakening effect on Elspeth!

    What a great list. I’ve read earlier books by CJ and Michelle. I’ll have to pick up these. They sound great.

    I had quite a disappointing reading month in December which was a pity because I’d taken 10 days off for a reading feast. I quite enjoyed a few – the new Jane Harper The Lost Man is worth reading but I didn’t like the ending. Fabulous use of setting. And there were a couple of others by usually reliable authors that were on the just OK list rather than wonderful.

    Then right at the end, I had a run of goodies. I read the Goblin King by Katherine Addison and it’s one of my books of the year. Touching, sweet, suspenseful, wise, wonderful. 2018 was the year I rediscovered fantasy and this was one of the best I read over the last 12 months by far. Then I picked up a couple of books in the Jonathan Argyll/Flavia Di Stefano mysteries based in the Italian fine art world and loved all three. Death and Restoration, The Titian Committee and The Raphael Affair were all great – and short which given I’m about to start travelling was really helpful. Iain Pears who wrote An Incident of the Fingerpost (which I struggled with – it’s REALLY grim) wrote the series and they’re great fun. Now going to hunt down the other four.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I think Brody’s reaction to having his charm fail was one of my favourite things about The Laird’s Christmas Kiss, Anna. It was so cute. I could picture his puzzlement perfectly and him thinking, ‘But… but I’m a babe!’

      Interesting about the ending of the Jane Harper. That’s another that’s on my want to read list. So many people have said how good it is I feel I can’t miss out. Hmm. Might pick up a copy when I’m out today.

      Have just added The Goblin Emperor to my Kobo wishlist. It sounds fab and great reviews. Ta!

      I ADORE Iain Pears’ stand alone stories. His Dream of Scipio is one of my all-time favourite books, and Stone’s Fall and The Portrait were wonderful too, as was The Instance of the Fingerpost (grim, as you say, but SO GOOD). The only one I couldn’t cope with was Arcadia. I’ve only read one of the art series, the first one, and enjoyed it, but for some reason never carried on with the series.

      Thanks for sharing. I love all the additions to my TBR list even if my credit card doesn’t!

      1. AvatarAnna Campbell

        The only character in Fingerpost I liked was the one who gets hanged a bit after halfway through (after going through horrible experiences). Put it down then and didn’t pick it up again. The art series gets better and better. I think if I’d started with the first one, I might have faltered too but I read them out of order. The later ones are huge fun.

  4. Avatarmichelle douglas

    Cathryn, I’m so pleased you enjoyed both my In-Tray Baby and Marriage Deal. I had a lot of fun writing both of those (as you could probably tell). 😀

    I had a most excellent reading month in December! And it’s hard to decide what my favourite read was. I (finally) read Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London (so I’ll be reading the rest of that series eventually as it’s rollicking good fun). Lauren Willig’s The English Wife was gripping (and delightful). And I so enjoyed the latest box set of Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey Regency mystery series–it was an utter joy to reenter this world, as I love the cast of characters so much (first book is free if you’re interested in giving it a whirl).

    And I evidently have to read CJ Archer. I have several of her books on my Kindle…and Anna’s…it’s just a case of finding the time to read them!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Isn’t Rivers of London a blast? Such a fun concept and really entertaining read. I think I’m up to book 6 in this series now. They’re great stories to relax with.
      Have just chased up Ashley Gardner and it turns out I already have the first one. One-clicked back in 2016 and clearly forgot I had. Will have to read it now!
      Thanks so much for sharing. That’s great.

      1. AvatarMichelle Douglas

        Am laughing as I bet I raved about the Ashley G’s to you a couple of years ago and made you go and download the first one. 😀

        And, yes, looking forward to the next in the Ben Aaronavitch series!

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